We’ve been working our way through the book of Ephesians, learning to identify ourselves according to God’s definitions (Click to catch up) and not those of the world or the enemy. Today we’ll discover what God has to say about our identity as part of the Body of Christ, and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Last time we didn’t cover a very big section of Ephesians because the concept in those few verses laid an important foundation for us to understanding what we’re going to learn about today. It was important to grasp the importance of the covenants, both old and new, so that we can recognize our place in this New Covenant we’ve been grafted into. It is no small thing to belong to God! It was a privilege reserved mostly for those of Jewish descent for a long, long time, but now it is open and free to all of us.
I am Part of the Body of Christ
Ephesians 2:14-18 – For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.
Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
As these verses point out, now both Jews and Gentiles have been brought together under the blood of Jesus as one body. We’re all members of the body of Christ, but what does that mean? What is the significance of this role, and how does the peace Jesus made possible between the members play into that role?
To find the answer, let’s ask, what is the primary purpose of our own physical bodies? Isn’t it to accomplish the purposes set forth in our mind (the head)?
If our being comprised nothing more than a thinking center, we might have a lot of great ideas, but how would we accomplish them? How would we share our ideas without a mouth, or hear new information to inform our thoughts and ideas without ears? How would we go out into the world without legs and feet, and how would we build and work without arms and hands?
Each part of our physical body is uniquely designed to serve a purpose along with all the other parts that, when combined, create a functional powerhouse capable of just about anything.
However, when one part (even a seemingly small or inconsequential part) ceases to function properly, the whole body suffers. There is pain. There is a disruption in our ability to accomplish our purposes. The burden of other parts of the body is increased as each part tries to fill a role for which it was not designed.
Chaos, confusion, and failure are introduced. Inefficiency rules.
Peace Between the Members of the Body of Christ
We’re going to talk more in the next few chapters about this concept of being part of the body of Christ, and more specifically, the importance of being united in purpose to the head (which is Christ). But for now, it’s important we understand this from the perspective of PEACE among the members of the body of Christ.
It is a VITAL part of our identity!
How ridiculous would it be for our hands to suddenly decide they have a problem with our feet, and to refuse to function as members of the same body?
Not only would it be absurd, it would be debilitating! The members of our physical bodies know how to stick to their own roles. They know how to allow the head to be in charge of both their own function, and the function of the rest. But sadly, as part of the body of Christ, we’re not as good at that, and I believe it stems from a fundamental lack of understanding of our identity!
Our passage from Ephesians today tells us the peace within the members of the body of Christ is part of what He died to accomplish! It is because of His death we CAN have peace. It is because of His death we have been united.
His death made us all equal!
Whether we’re an eye, or a heart, a mouth, or a bladder – it is all the same. Each and every one of us has been given the right to come to the Father and be a part of the body of Christ through the power of the same Holy Spirit, thanks to the work of the same Lord and Savior of us all. And we all have the same purpose: To accomplish the will of our head – the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am Part of God’s Holy Temple
Ephesians 2:19-22 – So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
Not only are we His body, though, we are also His temple.
That is, our physical bodies, which make up His body, when combined together comprise the House of God. The Temple of the Holy Spirit.
This is especially significant when we consider the implications of being joined together with the Jewish believers under the new Covenant we learned about last time.
You see, the Temple played a very significant role in the worship of God for the Jews.
Hebrews 10:11-16 – Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the alter day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time…For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy. And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For He says, “This is the new covenant I will make with My people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
Hebrews 10:18-22 – And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By His death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
The Temple of the Holy Spirit
Under the old system, the things of the temple, like the altar, and the rooms of the building, and the utensils used both in sacrifice and in worship had to be washed with pure water and sprinkled with the blood from a sacrificed animal. Even then, no one but the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and go into the presence of God.
But now, WE have been washed with pure water and sprinkled with the blood of Christ. Now, the presence of God is not off limits to everyone except one high priest, it is available to all of us and is IN all of us who belong to Him!
1 John 2:27 – But you have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true – it is not a lie. So just as He has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Alright, let’s tie it all together.
Do you remember in John 2:19, when Jesus told the Jewish leaders that they would destroy “this temple” and He would raise it up again in three days? In verse 21 it tells us that when He said “this temple” He was not talking about the literal, old covenant temple, but about His own body.
They would destroy it through the crucifixion, and three days later He would raise it up again to new life. In this new life, the church became His body – the temple to which He referred, and He became the cornerstone of that Holy Temple. (The stone the builders rejected last time.)
And so our identity is found in being, both part of the body of Christ, and the actual physical Temple of the Holy Spirit!
Friends, may we understand the significance of this precious, priceless identity we have so freely been given and never EVER work to harm it.
Psalms 27:4 – The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in His Temple.
If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest of the Identified Series as we work our way through the whole book of Ephesians to discover everything God has to teach us about who we are in Him.